Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I have nothing against celebrity chefs but it does get a tad worrying when some get carried away flogging books, TV shows, live appearances, etc. instead of sticking to their actual vocation - that of cooking.
Chef Frankie Woo, therefore, I daresay is terribly ‘old school’. This is one Chinese chef that eats, breathes, lives on and even dreams of good food with such deep-seated passion, it is hard not to share his enthusiasm.
This lanky, stick-thin veteran chef has been in the business since he was 13 years old. Whether it's a no-frills restaurant or top 5-star hotel outlets, Chef Frankie Woo has worked in them all. Today, he calls the shots at his own restaurant, Gu Yue Tien. Don't be fooled by its low-key existence though - although it is just three years old, Gu Yue Tien often attracts a discerning circle of fine Chinese food connoisseurs including the rich, powerful and famous. So don't be surprised if you spot superstar Jackie Chan or Datuk Michelle Yeoh and her beau at the table next to yours.
Did you know that Chef Frankie Woo is one of the few Asian chefs who has had the privilege of being a guest chef in the US of A at the invitation of the prestigious James Beard Foundation in 2004? James Beard is one of America's most respected chefs and his foundation is seen as a guardian of excellent culinary standards for top-notch restaurants and the F&B industry. Every year only a handful of young, talented chefs from all over the world are invited to showcase their culinary prowess at a special 'by invitation only' dinner. "Just how important is it? Well, it's like being invited to do a film with Steven Spielberg or George Lucas!" said Chef Woo.
Yes, one can literally talk till the cows come home with Chef Woo once you get him started on the subject of food. His ardent passion and superior knowledge of Chinese cuisine, its origins and intricate links to a rich, primeval cultural legacy are further substantiated by his wealth of experience and skills. This is one chef who is well-versed with the nitty-gritty of cooking up everything and anything under the sun, whether it's wild exotic meat or contemporary Chinese dishes that incorporate the wealth of ingredients sourced from different corners of the world. But one thing is for sure - diners can be assured that his modernistic approach never detracts from their quintessential Chinese essence.
For instance, his Double-boiled Pig’s Stomach Soup with Golden Coin Shark’s Fin (RM80++ per bowl) is a masterful blend of humble rusticity and sheer extravagance. Robust and peppery, this timeless home-style soup is transformed into a gastronomic treat thanks to the addition of shark's fin.
While the cold appetizer of Smoked Salmon Roll with Crab Meat Salad and Salmon Roe (RM12++) is more Continental than Chinese, you can't help but marvel at the interplay of textures and flavours emanating from the wickedly indulgent creation.
The sublime dressing in the Oven-Baked Fresh Oyster with Honey Glaze and Lemon Dressing (RM14++) does a great job of heightening the mollusks’ inherent sea-fresh sweetness and succulence. Concocted from honey, lemon zest, aged Chinese vinegar and spring onion, it will leave an indelible impression on you long after the dish has been consumed.
Like Merlin the Magician, Chef Woo's ‘saucery’ skill once again comes to the fore in the Baked Fresh Water Prawns with Home-made Butter Sauce (RM13++ per piece). Velvety-smooth and rich, the sauce is superbly aromatic thanks to the curry leaves in it.
We also had a chance to savour Steamed Empurau, a highly-prized native fresh water fish (Tor tramboides) from the pristine rivers of Sarawak. Due to its elusiveness and dwindling numbers, the fish which can weigh up to 7-8 kilos, can sometimes command between RM400 and RM800 per kilogramme in the market.
Chef Woo said the fish is rich in omega-3 oils as it is fond of feeding on oil palm seeds. "I usually steam it whole with the scales intact to ensure its clear, sweet flavour and fine texture are maintained.” Indeed, the fish has an ethereal melt-in-the-mouth silkiness to it. Its fatty belly area is especially appreciated for its smooth, custardy texture.
Another signature dish is Braised Black Pig with Mushroom and Radish (RM26++). The pricey pork is known to be unbelievably tender as the black-coated Spanish pigs are raised on a natural diet of grass, herbs, roots and acorns. Having been braised with radish and mushrooms, the fork-tender escalopes are suffused with an enticingly earthy sweetness.
If you love soft-boiled eggs, Chef Woo's trademark Half-boiled Egg with Foie Gras (RM8++ each)is a 'must have'. A decadent treat imbued with the indulgent richness of foie gras, the lightly poached egg is served in its shell.
Even dessert is slightly off the beaten track – his Bittergourd Pudding with Honeydew (RM8++) stands out for its subtle kum (gold) aftertaste, an astringent bittersweet nuance which is a refreshing counterpoint for this creation.
Located at Chulan Square across from The Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Gu Yue Tien’s understated elegance makes it a favourite amongst corporate types and fine Chinese cuisine lovers. Its discreet, personalised service is further boosted by the owner/chef’s hands-on approach. Expect to pay around RM99++ per person or more when you dine here but some of the signature specialities are worth every sen.
GU YUE TIEN (non-halal)
Lot 5A Chulan Square
Jalan Raja Chulan
Reservations: 2148 0808
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Feast your eyes on these...here's how I churn out my army of little chocolate men!
Chocolate Men Cookie
8 oz butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg yolk
2 1/2 cups plain wheat flour
12 oz chocolate chip
1 egg white
Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Beat butter, sugar, vanilla essence and salt until creamy and fluffy. Blend in egg yolk and mix well. Fold in flour and chocolate chips. Divide dough into 2 portions and chill in fridge for an hour. Then cut out cookie into desired shapes. Brush surface of cookies with egg white and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove once done and let cookies cool down before storing in an airtight container.
Fancy a slice?
Apple Cake & Muffins anyone?
I can't recall when I last had some 'kick back' time but this afternoon was one of those rare days. After I had completed my lastest assignment this morning, I decided to treat myself by trying out a new recipe from Chef Wan's Sweet Treats book.
With only 3 eggs available in the fridge, I had to look for a cake recipe that could be made with what was available at hand. So the Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe (page 146) looked promising but then again, I didn't have any bananas or cream cheese in the house! Clever old me decided that I would substitute this with grated green apples instead...and forget about the frosting. So my 'reworked' Apple Cake recipe went like this:
225g unsalted butter (I cheated and used salted butter but omitted the salt called for in this list)
1 cup castor sugar
1 cup grated apples (I used 2 Granny Smith green apples)
1/3 cup yogurt (I used Liteyo Green Tea & Aloe Vera Yogurt which I happened to have)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 3/4 cups all-purposed flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time followed by grated apples. Then add in the yogurt and vanilla essence to the mixture together with cinnamon powder. Sift flour with salt and baking soda before folding these into the batter. Pour into a greased and floured 22 cm cake pan. Bake for 50 minutes and then remove from oven to cool.
Note: I misread the instructions and poured the 2/3 of the batter into a loaf pan instead! The rest I divided into a 6-cup muffin pan ;-P This essentially changes the cooking time of course. I baked the first loaf for about 30 minutes or thereabouts - once the skewer inserted into the cake came out clean, I removed it from the oven. The muffins went in for about 20 minutes.
All in all, it wasn't a very successful attempt. The overall texture of the loaf turned out nice and soft but I noticed a sticky layer just above the bottom crust which according to Chef Wan's notes indicated too much liquid - I figured it must be the grated apples which of course had more water content in them compared to mashed bananas! Luckily the muffins fared much better. But the taste-wise the cake was delicious!
Friday, November 16, 2007
From professional shipbuilder to captain of a five-star Chinese kitchen. Folks, meet Meet Chef Louie Hoi, executive Chinese chef of One World Hotel’s Zuan Yuan restaurant. The affable chef discovered his culinary vocation by coincidence after he started helping out at a family member's restaurant during the 1980s economic downturn. Today, Chef Louie Hoi is the man in charge of Zuan Yuan's maiden appearance in the 2007 Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF).
Zuan Yuan, which means ‘diamond garden’ in Chinese, simply exudes classy sophistication - thanks to its plush interior of polished silver leaf ceiling, sleek ebony doors and ornate displays of Chinese objects d'art.
The menu emphasises modern Cantonese cuisine coupled with some classic Teochew delicacies. Even the Dim Sum comes with a slight twist – Taro Dumplings (woo kok to you and me) with its scrumptious Scallop and Miso Sauce (RM11++ per plate) filling are worth returning for. More delicate in taste but no less delicious are the Steamed Teochew Dumplings (RM10++ per basket). Pity about the rather thick Cheong Fun but the filling of Gooseliver & Char Koay is quite unusual and worth sampling (RM8++ per plate).
Fortunately, the Zuan Yuan’s MIGF starter of Cold Sliced Seared Tuna and Phoenix Roll with Home-made Mustard Sauce made up for the earlier hiccup. Chef Hoi artfully blends Japanese and Chinese cooking influences to enhance the tuna’s inherent sweetness and poached chicken’s succulence. Complementing it was a zingy-tangy-sweet sauce concocted from Chinese yellow mustard, mirin and myriad flavourings that the chef naturally declined to reveal.
The South Sea Harvest dish of Double Boiled Nga Kan Shark’s Fin infused with Pigeon Consommé is memorable for its clear, salubrious broth laced with shark’s fin. Tender minced pigeon meat and chopped water chestnuts add interesting textural dimensions
An exquisite treat fit for a king is the Pan-fried Imperial Treasures in which Scallops were rolled with Bacon and Foie Gras, and glazed with Mint Sauce. Dark, intense and zesty, the rich, velvety smooth gooseliver and crisp bacon were fully embraced by the succulent scallops.
The Oriental Phoenix creation or Ostrich Fillet with Oriental Spiced Black Pepper Sauce is complemented by a soft, succulent disc of fried egg white and a robust ginger and black peppercorns sauce. Giving it a nice balance are some Chinese wolfberries and sautéed celery.
Taking a leaf out of our local Nyonya culinary heritage, Chef Hoi proffers Steamed Cod Fillet with Aromatic Ginger Flower Sauce. Imagine the cod’s indulgent smoothness matched with a mildly sweet and spicy sambal of red chilli blended with fresh torch ginger flower, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves.
Zuan Yuan’s Signature Fried Rice is a ‘must have’ for die-hard rice lovers. Redolent with dried scallops, diced prawns and asparagus, and beansprout stalks,
Chilled Treasures in the form of Chilled Aloe Vera infused with Lemon Grass is a guilt-free, tangy and herbal jelly. A most welcome change from the usual coconut milk and sugary broths that other Chinese restaurant have.
Priced at RM99.80++ per person (food only) and RM120++ (with wines), Zuan Yuan’s distinctive MIGF menu has proved to be a real gem.
ZUAN YUAN (non-halal)
Lobby Level One World Hotel
First Avenue Bandar Utama City Centre
47800 Petaling Jaya Selangor
Tel: 7681 1111
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Crispy Salt-Fish Flavoured Chicken Wings
Super-rich Foie Gras for the well-heeled crowd
Hip & Hot Hokkien Pork-free Prawn Mee
Must try! Spaghetti with Crackling Duck Skin Croutons
We stumbled upon the outlet when we went to check out the newly opened Bangsar Village 2. With old folks in tow and a kid, it's not easy to find an eatery that suit everyone. Still the classy place offers a good East-West menu (NOT fusion but segregated into separate sections). Get past the 'chi chi' chandeliers and you'd feel right at home, lolling in the white wicker chairs that go with the white marble tables. Rows of potted fir trees give the dining area a mock outdoorsy feel. One tends to have the impression of being waited on hand and foot by a battalion of chefs as the service team is immaculately garbed in spotless white chef’s uniforms.
We were surprised the local items stayed true to tradition while the European-style salads, appetizers and mains will strike a chord with more sophisticated tastebuds. Definitely a good place to bring Mom, aunties and trendy gal-pals!
Had a recent windfall? Treat yourself to the Pan-Seared Foie Gras (RM45++) served with olive oil and fruity apple reduction. Supremely smooth yet light enough to leave you feeling hugely satisfied. Oh, we guarantee your diet will fly out the window once you sample the Baked Escargots with Anchovy Garlic Butter (RM24++).
The luxurious Wild Rocket, Parmigiano, Sliced Pear and Roasted Pine Nuts drizzled with Foie Gras Reduction (RM25++) is too good for rabbits so greenies will do well to order this.
Who says ham yue (salted fish) is only fit for a pauper's table? Crushed and mixed into the batter for Aromatic Chicken Wings (RM14++), the dish is fit for a king! Imagine biting into crisp batter and then moist, juicy and subtly briny chicken wings - oooohh...this humble ingredient deserves some new-found respect.
But all said and done, we always look for a kick-*** dish that defines a particular restaurant. We certainly found it in the Pasta with Sun-dried Tomato and Duck Skin Croutons (RM25++). Inspired by an unforgettable French peasant dish of solidified duck lard eaten with fresh sliced baguette, Yeong's duck skin croutons are good enough to rival the regular chee yow char (deep-fried pork lard dices).
Tossed with pasta, olive oil and sun-dried tomato, the simple combination worked like a charm. One gets a light, well-rounded gamey aftertaste in the pasta, with the crispy duck skin bits heightening the sun-dried tomato’s delicate piquancy. In turn, the latter prevents the dish from being overly rich.
OK, local foodies can take comfort that the Prawn Noodles (RM16++) has all the requisite flavours nicely balanced too. The soup is spicy without being tongue-numbingly so and has a tasty prawny sweetness to it. The recipe comes from one of Toto Ooi's relatives who runs her own prawn noodles shop back in Bukit Mertajam, up north in Penang. Served with decent size prawns, blanched beansprouts, kangkong, sliced chicken and hard-boiled egg, it is now one of Banquet's hot sellers. My only beef is the absence of crispy fried shallots to give it that essential finishing touch but Ooi has promised to rectify this.
Imagine eating a rustic dish like Mee Jawa (RM16++) in achingly hip Bangsar! Well, the noodle dish is on the menu and worth trying. Even though the mildly spicy sweet potato and crab gravy is not as thick as I would have liked it to be, the dish more than passed muster with its generous accompaniments of sliced flour fritters and fried firm beancurd, crunchy flour cracker, prawns and beansprouts.
Another diet-busting temptation that you must not miss is the Hot Chocolate Cake. You have to wait 15 minutes for it but heck, this light, ultra-decadent chocolate cake with a molten liquid centre imbued with white truffles is simply to-die-for! Don't let the RM30++ tag deter you - go on and have it just this once! Saner diners may want to opt for the classic chocolatey or peanut butter filling.
Inject a burst of 'sunshine' onto your palate with the Lemon Tart (RM9++) or pick up some Italian smoothness with its Tiramisu (RM18++).
1F-28 Bangsar Village II
2 Jalan Telawi Satu
Tel: 2282 3228
Friday, June 08, 2007
Sweet Brazilian treats await
Yummy cuts from Bossa Nova
Take your pick of meat in all types and cuts
Brazilian bites to start with
For the price of a steak, you can beef up on endless cuts of grilled meat at ParkRoyal KL's newly opened Churrascaria rodizios (Brazilian grill) - Bossa Nova.
Its sleek, modern interior boasts large, colourful wall murals with warm ambient lighting and a spacious custom-built dance floor. The idea here is not only to become a dining hot spot but also KL's centrestage for avid salsa and Latin dance enthusiasts to demonstrate their fancy footwork.
Resident passador or carving expert, Chef Marinaldo Monterio Pereira ensures the various marinated meats are grilled to perfection and that diners are kept satiated with endless servings of prime cuts of lamb, chicken, beef and even prawns hot off the grill. Humour him enough and he may just hog the limelight to show you some nifty dance moves of his own.
One word of caution though when you dine here - it's best to pace yourself accordingly if you intend to go the whole hog and attempt to devour everything proffered. As long as you keep that little square beside your cutlery turn onto the green side, the passador will happily continue to tempt you with different meaty cuts. When you have had enough, flip it over to red as a silent signal to 'cut it out'.
The protein-laden mains are pre-empted by an interesting buffet of typical Brazilian appetizers. Heavily influenced by the Portuguese and Middle-Easterners, you'd find many of the delicious starters incorporate black and green olives, lemon juice, fresh fruit vegetables and spices. Noteworthy choices to try include Salgadinhos Coxinha (breaded and deep-fried lightly spiced chicken croquettes), Hearts of Palm with Olives Salad, Raisin Polenta, Sautéed Mushrooms, Mixed Bean Salad and Fish Croquettes.
I like the black bean stew which has smoky and mildly briny dried and fresh beef, and sausages. Known as Feijoada, it is apparently Brazil’s national dish. The proper way of eating it is with Stewed Rice (this has pine nuts and toasted garlic slices in it). The smooth, creamy Potato and Parsley Soup was especially good as were the Apple Salad, Black Bean Dip and Crushed Sweet Potatoes with Parsley.
Do alternate your intake of herbed sausages, chicken ham, lamb, butter fish, tiger prawns and beef tenderloin with the refreshing, zesty salads or Abacaxi (grilled pineapple with cinnamon) to help balance the indulgent meatiness.
Dessert comprises a simple yet scrumptious selection. Top marks go to the Pave de Chocolate (chocolate cookie tart) for its mousse-like texture intermingled with chocolatey cookie crumbs. If you're nutty over nut-filled confections, then savour Cajuzinho, a soft Brazilian candy made from crushed cashewnuts and chocolate. For something lighter, opt for the Egg White Candy which is reminiscent of macaroons with crushed Oreo cookies and Manjar Branco, an enticing coconut flan topped with prune sauce.
Service is efficient but the staff lacks confidence (well, at least for now) on how to guide diners more effectively so that they can be maximum enjoyment from their dining experience here.
Bossa Nova has a seating capacity of 106 persons, inclusive of two private dining rooms and a full bar. The buffet costs RM48++ per head for lunch and RM58++ for dinner - a steal considering what some steak houses in town charges for their meat cuts.
BOSSA NOVA (pork-free)
Lower Lobby Level
Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur
Reservations: 2711 1199
Business hours: Mon-Fri 12 noon to 2.30 pm, Mon-Sat 6.30 pm to 10.30 pm
Friday, May 11, 2007
It has been a long while since my last visit to Prince Hotel & Residence. Their pork-free dim sum has always been decent under veteran Hong Kong chef, Chan Kong Tung (formerly of the Regent KL's Lai Ching Yuen). Recently the hotel welcomes not only a new sifu to churn out these dainty morsels but also Chef Lawrence Eng to helm its Chinese kitchen.
We were indeed lucky to have the chance to sample some of Chef Eng's signature dishes as depicted above. A trio of rather unconventional looking dim sum gave us an indication of what was to come - modern Chinese cuisine with a surprisingly pared-down approach yet cleverly imbued with global, totally Occidental flavours.
Out of the appetising trio, the black har gow (shrimp dumpling) is by far the most intriguing for its simple, squid ink-induced, slightly chewy tang meen skin and springy prawn filling. The miniature parcel actually contains foie gras, pine nuts and minced chicken - wonder if the chef makes the filling rich on purpose since in Thailand, a similar creation is known as money bags? The deep-fried crab claw which totters on the brink of normalcy is saved by its distinctive sauce that is concocted from beetroot, ginger juice, plum sauce, sugar syrup and fragrant oil.
The world's most expensive spice, saffron weaves its magical colour and flavour on the Superior Pumpkin Broth with Crab Meat Dumpling and Dragon Pearls. But the bland wintermelon beneath the dumpling detracted too much of the pumpkin’s muted sweetness. Perhaps it would have worked better had the wintermelon been poached in superior stock beforehand. Despite brimming with chunky crab meat, the sole dumpling also lacks 'oomph'.
Luckily, the subsequent dish of Wok-fried Chicken and Pickled Lotus Root more than made amends for earlier shortcomings. I adore the delicious and subtle fruity sweetness of the rather sticky champagne sauce which coated the fried pieces of boneless chicken. Having the sour tartness and crunchiness of lotus root pickles to temper any cloying aftertaste is truly a brilliant move on the chef's part.
Nothing beats a good piquant sauce and the Hot Bean Sauce generously slathered on the King Prawns dish got the thumbs up from around us. Instead of the usual whole steamed fish, the Seabass Roulade with Enoki, Chinese Chive Flowers and Superior Soya Sauce is ideal for diners who prefer easy-to-eat, boneless fish dishes with clear, unadulterated flavours. Personally I'm not really big on fish so I wasn't too hot on this.
It's best to avoid the Steamed Glutinous Rice and Live Flower Crab Wrapped in Bamboo Leaves if you happen to be dining in polite company. Don't get me wrong - it's a tasty dish as the sticky glutinous rice is simply redolent with the crab’s inherent sweetness. But to get to the crab meat, one has to get to grips with it and things can get really messy here. So unless you have time to devour this at leisure or in the casual company of family and bosom buddies, this dish requires too much work.
Jasmine Tea Crème Brûlée and Baked Lotus Flower Cookies rounded dinner off on a sweet note. The first has this typical French dessert subtly perfumed with the bitter undertone and heady aroma of jasmine tea whilst the second turns out to be a work of art as the baked flaky pastry filled with lotus seed paste is beautifully shaped like a two-toned lotus blossom.
Service befits standards expected of a five-star hotel except during weekday lunch hours. This is when diners may have to try slightly harder to get the staff’s attention as most of them rush around trying to cope with the hectic pace. I personally have had no bad run-in with their service thus far so this bodes well for the outlet.
TAI ZI HEEN (pork-free)
Level 2, Prince Hotel & Residence
Jalan Conlay 50450
Tel - 2170 8888 x 8200
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Another point to note is food reviews must be taken liberally with a pinch of salt. Of course restaurateurs and chefs would roll out the red carpet when they know food reviews are being done - it's akin to having the Queen over for tea, going for your first date or attending that crucial 'make or break' job interview. Wouldn't you spruce your home up, groom yourself from head to toe to impress and set out to make a good lasting impression? Sure you would - why should it be any different for eateries and the people who own, operate and serve in them? So I see no sense why people should complain that the media write only positive things in their reviews ... those stories are meant to be just that - a review that serves as a guide on what the outlet specialities are, the philosophy behind the outlet being in existence, what inspired the chef(s), etc. Conclusions on whether the food is good or not must ultimately be left to the consumers themselves - real diners who get to decide ultimately whether it's justified parting with their hard-earned moolah no matter how good or bad the food is as deemed by us reviewers. Remember, one man's meat is another man's poison.
OK, I'm not advocating bad food - there's nothing worse than paying for mediocre dishes that spoil your day and leave you feeling like a bear with a sore head. But I've come to realise there's just no accounting for taste. Otherwise tell me how come some 'not so great' food outlets continue to not only exist but expand all over the place and draw tons of customers? Heck, it's freedom of choice and their customers obviously feel they are getting something worthwhile whenever they eat there.
Having said that, here are some no holds barred comments on recent outlets I'd been to at my own expense:
AFTERNOON TEA AT MANDARIN ORIENTAL KL
Still one of the best places to escape from the city's madness. Its huge picture windows looking out to sprawling lawns and verdant landscaped gardens are indeed balm for the soul. However, the Lounge's latest Afternoon Tea menu left much to be desired. We reckon it's a mistake to tinker with classic stuff like cucumber sandwiches and normal egg sandwiches ... yes, we see the need to be creative but seriously, even I can't stand the current curried egg filling which my kid took an immediate dislike to. Thank goodness the scones remained rich and crumbly as we remember them to be.
The Asian set was no better. Since I didn't touch the offerings for these, I was told only the chicken satay came up to mark. Which was surprising cos the last time we went, nobody had anything negative to say about the Asian selection.
Fortunately service remains exemplary - in fact it was better than before as we found there were more staff compared to our last visit. The few girls on duty in the past used to rush around looking very harried and sometimes failed to see patrons signalling to them for assistance. Now we had no problems getting their attention.
MANDARIN PALACE AT FEDERAL HOTEL KUALA LUMPUR
This grand dame of a restaurant deserves better patronage on weekdays. Younger diners may find the gilded trimmings and opulent setting too overwhelming but we just discovered that all that truly glitters here are the outlet's dim sum gems.
While the who's who in KL are raving over the pricey roast pork in this particular Pudu coffeeshop, we prefer the Mandarin Palace's crispy, delectable version that comes in alternate layers of fat and lean meat. And I can't recall the last time I tasted such scrumptious char siew bao - the cottony soft steamed layer yielded a generous amount of mildly sweet, dark and richly flavoured barbecued pork. Yummy!
It was certainly a memorable lunch as we fondly reminisced over the delectable lor mai kai (steamed glutinous rice with mushroom and chicken), plump morsels of siew mai and har gow, baked chan pow (mini bread-like buns with char siew filling) and ooh...light as air and super eggy dan tart or baked egg tarts. Just thinking about them make my mouth water!
On the day we went for lunch, only two other tables were occupied so service was definitely NOT an issue. It's amazing that hordes of tourists trawling the shops along the Bukit Bintang thoroughfare outside the hotel had no idea such a historical and noteworthy eatery exists within.
For a 50 year old hotel that was completed in time to herald our country's first Merdeka celebrations, the Federal KL deserves better respect and greater patronage.
WILD RICE AT CITITEL MID VALLEY
Unknown to the scores of shoppers of this humongous mall, the adjacent hotel houses a trendy cafe that offers a surprisingly decent buffet breakfast upstairs. Its sleek and minimalist interior appeals greatly to us - we like the floor to ceiling glass facade that accords us a lovely view of its pool, the fitness centre nearby and an elevated dining platform which is bordered by a bank of tall, sinewy bamboo planter boxes.
The spread seems remarkably simple at first sight but we soon found some nuggets to relish. Soft boiled eggs with toast and local kopi o are nice additions to the international selection. I love the scrambled eggs and chicken sausages, muesli and pancakes but the nasi lemak falls a little short of expectations. Pass on the rather dry scones and sliced cakes. The remaining stuff are average tasting but decent enough to stomach at the price we're paying.
Service is better than average, if not better than some established hotels in the Golden Triangle. The staff whips away used and stained crockery quite fast so much so that it's better inform them if you have not finish your food, and intend to nip off to get something else from the buffet.
* * * * * *
There you have it. Three frank overviews of our most recent food jaunts. Keep the bouquets or brickbats coming.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Dark & delectable...Deep-fried Pork ribs in Beer Stout
Slurpilicious Sang Har Meen
Cut to the chase with 52's Claypot Curry Fish Head
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Slurpilicious Freshwater Prawns in Special Sauce
Loh Mein with Freshwater Prawns & Crabmeat
Nyonya Sambal Fried Cincaru & Okra
Perk up the palate with Fried Kway Teow with Black
Hearty, rustic Fish Head Meehoon
Crispy Deep Fried Fish Fillet with Barreto Sauce
Few foodies can resist Sang Har Meen or stir-fried noodles with freshwater prawns. This dish reigns supreme amongst the many hawkers’ dishes available and the only one that can get away with restaurant's pricing!
Now there's a new eatery in Taman Tun Dr Ismail that prides itself in dishing up some freshwater prawn dishes, whether on their own or with noodles or rice. Its house speciality of Freshwater Prawn and Crab Meat Loh Mein (RM25 for regular, RM45 for large portion) is an extremely indulgent offering (forget about cholesterol counting for once).
Braised in a rich, eggy sauce with two big, succulent freshwater prawns, the fat yellow Hokkien noodles tasted out of this world with a dash of vinegar in it. Devour the noodles whilst they are still piping hot though. Otherwise, you'd end up with an unappetising congealed dish as they cool. I'm dying to sample their Freshwater Prawn Braised Yee Mee, Freshwater Prawn Wanton Mee in Fragrant Soup and Freshwater Prawn Meehoon in Nyonya-style Soup.
I have had better Fish Head Meehoon (RM8 – regular, RM13 – large) elsewhere but honestly, Zuho's version is as decent as they come. I prefer lai fun or thick rice noodles for this particular dish but to each her own I guess. What stood out was the fleshy chunks of deep-fried fish head and delicious sweet-tangy soup that has generous slices of hum choi or salted mustard, tomato wedges, sliced ginger and chopped spring onion in it.
The scrumptious Venison Fried Rice Nyonya-style (RM13 – regular, RM22 – large) fares better with me. Who can resist fluffy rice stir-fried with thin slices of venison, aromatic shredded kaffir lime leaves and local spices? I can only presume the Anchovy or Salted Fish Fried Rice, Beef Fried Rice Yong Chow Style and Crab Meat Fried Rice taste equally arresting.
If you like Hong Kong-style korn chau hor or dry-fried flat rice noodles, resident chef, S H Lim or Uncle Lim as he is known amongst staff and customers, executes this with panache. The Black Pepper Beef Fried Kway Teow (RM8 – regular, RM13 –large) remains slippery smooth, nicely separate and fully imbued with the robust nuances of freshly ground black pepper and sliced beef.
For all the farn tung (die-hard rice eaters) out there, Zuho's small selection of home-style dishes make perfect accompaniments to have with plain white rice. One of their specialities is Deep-fried Fish Fillet in Barreto Sauce (RM8 – regular, RM13 – large), a Filipina-inspired dish that comprised crispy, boneless pieces of fish fillet eaten with a tantalisingly sweet, sour and mildly spicy dip that has sesame seeds and chopped coriander in it.
Har loke, a classic prawn dish for many major Chinese festivals, is superbly replicated here. Its Freshwater Prawns Fried in Chef’s Special Sauce (RM30 – regular, RM45 – large) beg to be eaten with your hands to fully appreciate the dark, glistening and full-bodied sauce made from chopped garlic, red chilli, coriander, ginger, Worchestershire sauce, thick soya sauce and spring onions.
Chilli fiends will get fired up over the Nyonya Sambal Cencaru Fish (RM8 – regular, RM13 – large) as the ground chilli paste for this packs quite a wallop. The Kunyit Chicken (RM13 – regular, RM20 – large) and Stir-fried Chicken with Salted Fish (RM13 – regular, RM20 – large) come highly recommended as well.
A surprisingly good Melaka Nyonya Cendol (RM4) consisting of thick, caramelised gula Melaka (palm sugar) syrup, rich coconut milk and short, fat and soft jade-green cendol strands is the perfect conclusion to your meal at Zuho.
With its modern, spartan decor and quick, amicable service, Zuho is definitely worth the (reasonable) prices it is charging.
44 Jalan Datuk Sulaiman
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
60000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 012-238 8135/016-600 3389
Business hours – Tues-Sun 11.00 am – 3.00 pm, 6.00 pm – 10.30 pm
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Anyway another year beckons with more great dining experiences await! Believe it or not, eating well can be a vice...but heck, it's a blessed task that yours truly will undertake with no qualms whatsoever. 2006 has been a fair year filled with more fabulous food than mediocre eats so overall, it was memorable in its own way.
For those who have been following my food treks, thank you for your support. Stick around and I'd clue you in on what's hot on the dining scene in 2007. Now let the feast begin!
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